Cause for spatial variation in phenotypic quality of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) populations is of great interest to wildlife managers. Relating phenotypic variation of populations to large-scale land-use patterns may provide insight into why populations exhibit spatial variation and elucidate how management can influence population phenotype. We used an information-theoretic approach to relate average antler size of 203 deer populations to composition and structure of the habitat occupied by those populations. We used interspersion, edge, and diversity indices to represent habitat structure and percentage of area in vegetation types to represent habitat composition. Landscape composition was a better predictor of deer population antler size than was landscape structure. Percentages of the management unit in agriculture, pasture, and pine forest were variables commonly found in the region-specific set of best models. Model-averaged estimates of agriculture and pasture parameters were always positive and estimates of pine forest parameters were always negative, which suggests that land-use types that promote growth of early successional herbaceous plants will positively influence antler size and, most likely, body growth and reproduction of white-tailed deer populations. Conversely, our findings suggest landscapes dominated by pine forests did not provide optimal amounts of quality forages for white-tailed deer. Pine forest effects should be mitigated using a combination of increased harvest to lower deer density and silvicultural practices like thinning, prescribed burning, and selective herbicide applications that stimulate growth of high-quality forages beneath the forest canopy to improve deer phenotypic quality.
You have requested a machine translation of selected content from our databases. This functionality is provided solely for your convenience and is in no way intended to replace human translation. Neither BioOne nor the owners and publishers of the content make, and they explicitly disclaim, any express or implied representations or warranties of any kind, including, without limitation, representations and warranties as to the functionality of the translation feature or the accuracy or completeness of the translations.
Translations are not retained in our system. Your use of this feature and the translations is subject to all use restrictions contained in the Terms and Conditions of Use of the BioOne website.
Vol. 72 • No. 5